The Calm Before the Storm


I have so far kept away from mentioning too much about my work here and I will continue to do so both for professional reasons and because I am conscious of it encroaching on yet another aspect of my personal life but being that I teach in the UK system (the same one that has a 50% teacher retention rate, by the way), it is absolutely inevitable that it will have a dramatic effect on wider life here. This week has been one example as it has been particularly bad (with about 25 out of the last 48 hours spent in school, further hours spent working at home and still a lot to do over the weekend) so I’m afraid that I have struggled to do so much as eat and sleep, yet alone enjoy any adventures worth reporting on here. That being said, it has been a week of flagging up the little nuances of Falklands life that catch you at unexpected moments. I filled up the car for the first time this week, puzzled by the total cost and convinced that I had erred somehow until I remembered that diesel was 46p per litre; cashback!

You also notice that a great deal of life here relies on the inherent trust everyone has in everyone else, the irrelevance of door locks aside. I broke out the chequebook this week for the first time; the cheque stamps and ink pads next to the till in every shop show the normality of it (with no guarantee card, of course, it’s all done on faith). When you call or go to the bank, your name is pretty much your security clearance and away you go with whatever you need (there’s no cash machine here as, I’m told, the Falkland Island Pound notes are too flimsy to handle it so you need to get to the bank more often than you think). Similarly, our shipping arrived this week, some three months after first sending it – all that was needed was to locate the man in the know in a dusty shed, introduce myself and load the boxes up. No paperwork or even checking that I’d paid for it, society here relies on the fact that it is a fundamentally friendly place. It’s going to make moving anywhere after this very unusual. I’ve not touched the boxes yet, as I’m awaiting reinforcements but it’ll be exciting to see what the hell we sent down after all.

Han, of course, arrives in three days (weather-dependent, as last week’s ‘Airbridge’ (the MoD link from Mount Pleasant to RAF Brize Norton, as opposed to the LAN flight which is a 5-flight connection to the UK via Chile) was cancelled due to wind and the weather here is nowhere near predictable enough to see what happens. I suspect Han is secretly hoping to be delayed for a few days on the beautifully sunny Ascension Island but I am hoping that’s not the case. I am ridiculously excited to have her here and overly conscious of the fact that I have been living a bachelor lifestyle, washing up piles and all, for the last 10 weeks. It remains to be seen how she will find it here as experiences vary greatly from person to person; one person I know who came here from a large Chinese city suffers anxiety at the very thought of Goose Green’s isolation, whilst I am slowly but surely falling in love with these Islands. Here’s hoping she likes it, I’m nowhere near ready to leave yet.

Post Script:

It seems I can always find time for a small adventure; I managed to do a small amount of off-roading and take a walk along the Camber (one of the peninsuli that make up Stanley Harbour) for a slightly different view of Stanley as well as to see the long-abandoned industrial oil and coal terminal there. Although the weather was foul, finding your own off-road route with little experience is enough to put you out of your comfort zone and it did offer some surprising sites:

The old oil and coal terminal has seen better days. Tread carefully.

The old oil and coal terminal has seen better days. Tread carefully.

Stanley, through the rain and mist, from the Camber. The coloured tin roofs that give rise to Stanley's 'toy town' reputation.

Stanley, through the rain and mist, from the Camber. The coloured tin roofs that give rise to Stanley’s ‘toy town’ reputation.

7 thoughts on “The Calm Before the Storm

  1. I’m wondering if your posts will get shorter when Han joins you because you’ll have her there to talk, or longer because of sharing adventures. Been lovely to see her today. Will be good to know you’re back together.
    Every governor meeting here I ask what can be done to reduce workloads. I will keep asking.
    xx (one for each of you)

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    • We’ll see, but knowing Han’s propensity for using a great deal of words, I think they may get longer!
      I think we are so far down the path we’re on that it’ll take a minor revolution to lighten teacher workload; scrapping Ofsted and most of the government might do it. What profession in what country could sustain a 50% retainment? Oh well. Han’ll be here tomorrow, blog changes imminent!

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  2. Hey there Bailey,
    I’ve been reading your posts on a weekly basis and it sounds like a pretty unique, yet wonderful life there. It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable read on your settling in and aside of all the jokes that Diane and I still make about you teaching the Penguins of the island, it’s good to keep updated.
    Keep on with the fantastic updates and it’s great to see that Hannah is joining you soon.

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    • Hi Catherine,
      Thanks for commenting! It’s nice to have people feed back on this, as it’s such a one-way, mildly-narcissistic method of keeping in touch. It is unique alright.
      It is indeed great that Han’s finally heading down! Expect the updates to vary in their nature from now on, as Irishness invades in the way that it so wonderfully does.
      Hope all’s well at the school without me. How are the Mighty 8W doing? I should try and Skype in soon, we’re 4 hours behind GMT here so it’s doable if I have a free.

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  3. Sounds like a tough week
    We had Han here for a great week and tried hard to catch a sea trout but alas not to b
    Hoping to hear about loads of big trout down there
    Correction to earlier blog Wales play South Africa
    J

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  4. So glad to hear you’re enjoying your time and that Han will soon be there to experience this adventure with you! Best get tidying Bailey, no girl wants to arrive to piles of old dishes and washing! Hehe.

    25/48 hours in school is not good- hopefully just a busy period and the work load will soon ease up. Must be hard when you are the entire department! Have you got a half term to look forward to? Thankfully only one more week to survive for us. Take care and keep blogging , always nice reading your posts! Sam x

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    • Thanks Sam! Yeah, today’s devoted to sorting all that out, pretending that the house has been tidy for months.
      Yeah, hopefully it’ll ease up. It certainly is noticeable being on your own, having to be Head of Department and with a full timetable and no resources or anyone to turn to. It’s a challenge but you notice that you make a difference here. It’s also quite a responsibility. I haven’t approached Falklands history yet but that’s going to be a difficult one as it’s quite a sensitive issue.
      Half term week after next here too, thankfully! There’ll be something to write about after that, I’m sure.

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